Director: Martin Scorsese.
This was one of those films that sprung up out of nowhere, only seeing the trailers at the beginning of Christmas, was it a marketing ploy to get larger audiences. One fact that would certify this film as as a box office blockbuster is having Scorsese written all over it.
Based on the titular award winner novel by Shûsaku Endô published back in 1966, a work of historical fiction about two jesuit priest sent on a missionary to 1639 Japan to investigate the disappearance and assumed apostasy of their mentor.
Martin Scorsese read the book back in '89 and It's been a project of his for over 25 years, but never getting everything together, never being entirely ready until he finished filming The Departed. Whilst it's not strictly a remake, there is another earlier film made in 1971 by Masahiro Shinoda but had an ending not of the original source, being very much to the dislike of Endô. I do wonder if Endô approves of Scorsese's adaptation.
Drawing from his own relationship with the Catholic Church growing up in New York, Scorsese gives us themes of compassion, love and faith.
I have been trying to understand the motive to why Scorsese why make such a film, being quite different from the rest of his portfolio. He's a self-admitted fan of Japanese cinema, namely Mizoguchi's 1953 Ugetsu Monogatari that lead him onto others like Akira Kurosawa, and then turning into an obsession.
There is a strong taint of classic Japanese cinema here, obviously influenced by his obsession, yet Scorsese adds his flair, the close-ups, the lighting and something gruesome scenes he's so well know for doing, but I honestly don't think I would have known it was Scorsese without looking at the credits, and had I not known, I would have been totally shocked, and possibly be in more awe for the Director.
We follow Priests Fr. Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Fr. Garupe (Adam Driver) to Japan, in a time she wasn't very welcoming to foreigners. It was common for visitors to be beheaded on the beach. Both on a mission to seek out their mentor Fr. Ferreira (Liam Neeson) who has supposedly denounced Christianity under the torture of the Japanese.
Both Garfield and Driver are amazing, portraying their religious dedication with defiance and the uncertainty and fear as they're both constantly tested and pressured, at first hiding from the feudal lords of the land. Liam Neeson replaced Daniel Day-Lewis which occurred because the long delay in production, and I think it's a shame. Not saying Neeson didn't deliver, he does, but I think Day-Lewis would have made an amazing Ferreira.
Are people going to like it just because it's a Scorsese movie? Shame we can't do blind tasting look we do with wine, watching it without knowing who's behind the camera, because I honestly doubt anyone could guess it is Scorsese at the helm. It's amazingly captured, perfectly woven into a delicate fashion, but into a very long and drawn out story that can be quite mind numbing for some.
Ryan, a fellow blogger shared a quote from Matt Zimmer Seitz's review on the Roger Ebert's website which captures it exactly "This is not the sort of film you “like” or “don't like.” It's a film that you experience and then live with." It's certainly a film that's going to be hard to ignore. Being long-winded, and with the subject drama, it's going to be an acquired taste, but it's hard to deny it being a tremendous film, however, personally, far from being my favourite Scorsese movie.
Running Time: 5
The Cast: 8
Job Description: 6
The Extra Bonus Point: 0
Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Possibly. It's unfortunately one of those films that once you've seen it, you don't need to see it again for awhile.